Feb 28th: The first Meet The Candidates night was held this evening at the Moriches-Shirley Library at 7pm. It was hosted by Osprey Point Civic Association with Beth Wahl as moderator. In attendance was Judge Barbara O'Malley, Trustee Bob Morrow, Alan Chasinov and Gail Cappiello, Trustee Olivo was unable to come. Well over 100 resident came to hear them. Beth expressed a little concern regarding the passion of the residents and asked us all to be polite. Except for a few rude people speaking loudly under their breath, most folks came to listen to what the candidates had to say and assess their leadership qualities.
When the questioning began it was obvious that the residents were interested in their Village but concerned about its progress. Many spoke of the still deteriorated state of Neighborhood Rd. Bob Morrow wants people from the community to improve Neighborhood Rd. Alan Chasinov and Gail Cappiello both felt that the Village should reach out for help from experts for some guidance to refurbish the business district.
Some were concerned that code enforcement was being unequally applied. There was concern that the elderly were being targeted but unable to comply due to age and disability. Bob Morrow insisted that the codes were enforced properly. Alan Chasinov thought the new warning system being instituted was a good idea other than for emergency situations. Gail Cappiello said the Village should have some mechanism in place to help the elderly or sick bring their homes into compliance.
When asked, Bob Morrow said he was against the commercialization of the waterfront that the Zoning Commission had proposed. Alan Chasinov felt that the community had clearly rejected the proposal because they recognized what a special resource we had. He said he would like to see limited development keeping in mind the delicate eco-system. He also felt we needed guidance from environmentalists to help with that goal. Gail Cappiello said she did not want to see hotels and motels on the water front. She also wanted to see some development but only if it did not threaten to destroy the reason she lives here, the waterfront.
They fielded questions about the lack of updates of the Village website which many residents use to keep current on meeting minutes and notices of same. Bob Morrow said they had fallen behind during tax season but were now training someone to work on the website. Alan Chasinov and Gail Cappiello both expressed the importance of the website in notifying residents about meetings. Both agreed that public participation in Village government was essential for a successful village and the website updates were key to that goal. Alan Chasinov felt that had the public had an opportunity to participate more in the zoning proposal, the final zoning codes would have reflected that.
Included in the questioning was the time worn issue about who did what to start the Village. Barbara O'Malley said she came to the effort late but did some e-mails. Bob Morrow said he really did not work toward the goal other than speak to his neighbors. Alan Chasinov said he attended the exploratory committee meetings and had questions about the Village viability. He has since changed his mind after attending all the workshops and Village meetings. He now feels that if run properly the Village would be a huge benefit to the residents. Gail Cappiello was the only one who actually had worked for the Village by getting petitions signed and attending meetings. She had dropped out when the rancor became too personal instead of focusing on the community's success.
There were some fireworks when the issue of openness in government came up. Alan Chasinov felt that some of the meetings held without the mayor were actually in violation of the Open Meetings Law of New York State and the Village Code. Bob Morrow shot back that Alan should sue the Village.
Alan Chasinov also expressed his dissatisfaction about firing the Village Attorney at a public meeting instead of a closed door session which is customary when someone is terminated. Bob Morrow insisted that it was necessary to fire the attorney at an open meeting. Alan Chasinov disagreed saying it was not handled properly. Gail Cappiello said the firing was an embarrassment and poorly done.
All in all it was a civil exchange of ideas and viewpoints. Beth Wahl, the moderator, actually expressed relief. After the meeting residents greeted the candidates and mingled with friends and neighbors. It was a well run and informative event thanks to the guidance of Beth Wahl. There was only one angry exchange at the door by some man who apparently had mis-read the tenor of the meeting and tried to menace another resident who to his credit simply walked away from the fool.